Elder Law & Estate Planning


As our family members age, we are sometimes faced with difficult decisions regarding their health and well-being. A lot of those decisions concern what actions should be taken when our family members begin exhibiting dementia or Alzheimer's Disease symptoms. In the event an individual is unable to manage his/her own affairs and advance directives have not been completed, guardianship allows a trusted family member or friend to do so. Westark Law advises clients regarding all aspects of legal guardianship proceedings. The guardianship process requires the filing of court documents, attendance and presentation of evidence at a court hearing, and the post-appointment filing of court documents.


Children and other relatives, such as nieces, nephews and cousins, frequently consult Westark Law about their legal rights and obligations when a guardian proceeding is necessary, or has already been commenced either by the Department of Human Affairs Adult Protective Services or another family member. In some cases, the children and other relatives live out of state, making it extremely difficult to participate in the guardianship process. Westark Law fills this void by attending all hearings scheduled by the court and filing legal papers with the court outlining our clients' position regarding the need for the appointment of a guardian, who the appointed guardian should be, the development of a care plan for the ward and the development of a plan for the management of the ward's assets.


Westark Law is a full service estate planning firm, using wills and trusts to accomplish the most proper end of life plan for our clients. These documents provide for asset protection during life, asset distribution upon death and may allow the estate to avoid probate. We advise clients regarding the benefits, advantages and disadvantages of different trusts and assist clients with funding issues.


When drafting last will and testaments, we take all issues into consideration including choices of personal representatives; payment methods; testamentary plans; trusts for spouses, children, and pets; and pour-over provisions.


We use revocable trusts to allow our clients to avoid the probate process, provide a means for proper asset distribution and ensure the proper management of assets in the event of incapacity.


We create irrevocable trusts to protect client assets from creditors (including Medicaid as a creditor), provide a means for asset preservation, create a vehicle to receive asset transfers, maximize tax benefits and facilitate planning for Medicaid.


We use revocable trusts to allow our clients to avoid the probate process, and provide a means for proper asset distribution and proper management of assets in the event of incapacity.


Revocable trusts name a trustee who will continue to properly manage one's assets in the event of permanent loss of capacity, temporary unavailability or upon death. A revocable trust may be used to retain assets for many later generations and leave a legacy from the grantor while properly planning for all available tax benefits. The administration of a trust typically results in considerably less attorney fees then otherwise applicable probate fees.


Within the revocable trust there are many available planning options. For example, the trust can provide for protective trusts in the event one beneficiary is an inappropriate spender or too immature to handle the assets, if a beneficiary is disabled in any way, or if a beneficiary is going through a divorce. It may also plan for charitable gifts and specific gifts of property.

Contact John Zaharopoulos for a free consultation. 


479.445.6295 ext 1